Tuesday, December 31, 2013

As 2013 closes...

I get to have a moment of reflection.  I see all these post on Facebook about how their past year has been.  Sometimes I can smile and laugh with those memories.  And sometimes I tear up as I remember those memories right along with them.

And at other times I learn more about their lives.  While most of my friends on Facebook aren't people I've ever met in real life I'm connected to them.

So here is my moment of reflection:

In 2013 we completed a tough year.  We had my Mother and Father In Law visit along with my two Brother In Laws.  They came to be with us during our rough time.

We buried our son at the end of January. 

Slowly we moved on with our lives. 

We celebrated Kyler's 8th Birthday and then Quinton's 6th Birthday.

We kept as busy as we could.  The boys with school and swimming lessons and friends.  Arnold worked and I volunteered at school.

In April I was offered a new job at church.  I worked there and volunteered at school. It was so nice to have something to do that really gave back to my family.

During the summer we had a full house.  My nieces from Cambridge came to spent most of the summer with us.  It was a great experience!  We had so much fun! The kids did day camps; church camps; zoo camps.; then another camp in Sarnia.  and back again fro some fun after the long weekend.  It was great.

At the beginning of the summer Quinton and Arnold went to Alberta to have some fun.  They both enjoyed their time with family and checking things out.

At the end of August my dad started radiation treatment for his cancer.  And while he did that we also found out that my Mother In Law was diagnosed with breast cancer.  Our lives have been caught up in learning more about cancer and living each day to the fullest.

We also moved my parents into a new house.  It was kind of hard.  It was the house I had known, and had a lot of our family memories. While their move was only around the block it's a change for all of us. 

September brought some new fun.  Kyler was in grade 3 and Quinton was in grade 1!  What a change to do full day school.  Jack was a big help getting the kids off to school when I went to work.  I also began working every day as a lunch room supervisor!

Shortly before the end of September I got to go to a wine weekend with some incredible girls!  We has a blast!!  While we were there Arnold got to speak to our real estate agent. When I returned we began our hunt for our house.

We found a house, purchased a house and moved in all in less than a month!  It was a crazy month for us.  We tired to close on my birthday but it didn't quite work out that way.

Our new house took up a lot of our time.  We tore out the carpet upstairs and put down new flooring, including the subfloor and click laminate. I painted the room.  This is all after demoing a wall that was between the two rooms.  It was a lot of work.  We also tore up the basement floor and the ceiling.

We finally moved in, with the help of a lot of people from church and Arnold's work, one of the last few weekend in November.

On November 28th we went out and got our Christmas tree.  This is the way we remember Otis's Birthday :)  So far it's working!  We enjoyed getting the tree and bringing it home and setting it up.  I'm so proud of it.

The boys and I started celebrating Christmas right from the beginning of December.  I finished working in the church office and was now back to school full time.  Arnold was lucky enough to take a few days to work from home and get some things done at the new house so his hours were a bit all over the place. 

Just after school ended we had the blackout from the ice storm.  While spending some time at Arnolds work the first day to keep warm we ended up in Sarnia.  Arnold "worked from home" the Tuesday then had the rest of the week off.  Arnold and Jack headed back to Sarnia on the Saturday and our power went on shortly afterwards.  The little dudes and I came back to Toronto on the Sunday to a nice warm house!

And now... as the year ends I'm taking a moment or two to reflect on how this year has gone.  And while it didn't start out as a happy year I'm glad that this year is over and a new one begins.  While tomorrow may just be another day it is the first day in a new year.  I pray that God will grant us a year that we will remember; a year that we can spend praising Him; and most of all a year where we make incredible memories with our family.

Happy New Year Readers!  Enjoy these last few moments of 2013 and bring in 2014 with a smile!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

6 more days!

That's right!!  6 more days!

This mornings board at school was our nice reminder that there is only 6 more days of school left!!!  Which for teachers (who weren't counting today) it was really 5 days!  One whole hand!

Last night was our Christmas concerts at school.  Actually, one was in the afternoon.  But they were great.

Our week has been busy!

On Monday we dropped off our teacher gifts!  Mr C (Q's teacher) got a "book of gift cards".  Ms. G (K's teacher) got a jar of gumballs and a GC.  Then the office staff and those I work with 1 on 1 got my "exploding box" gifts.

Tuesday was preparing for our concert.  It meant for a super duper busy day!

Wednesday got crazy.  A fun morning to get the concert ready and to get the kids excited.  Then lunch and onto the concert.  We had our concert from 1:30 until about 2:30pm.  Everyone was gone by 3pm.  Which is nice.  I even got my first "teacher gifts" :)  I loved it!

On Wednesday night. it was my boys turn.  The parent council did a great job with our baskets so I spent most of my time doing the raffle.  A friend of mine one the VIP seating.  It was big cushy seats at the front with no one in front of you.  It was great :)  I loved it!  Her hubby couldn't make it so I did.  We got front row seating, and they waited on you!  There was a bottle of water and a juice box to start.  Then you got a tray of grapes, cheese and cracker.  After the next group you got carrots/cucumber and dip in a cup.  And last was a tray with cookies on it!  It was all so great!  The kids did a wonderful job serving.

Then to add to the fun I won a basket!!  The boy basket.  I seriously bought 2 tickets and they were the ones in there :)  I'm so excited for it.

The boys sang so well.  You could hear Q over EVERYONE!  It was so funny.  And Kyler did a great job.  He did a little "saying of favourite things" during the first song in the microphone and the second song was a dance.  He loved it and did a wonderful job!

Then today... the "6 more days" of school left was so fun!  We all had a wonderful day, even with the wind-chill.  They called indoor recess for the classes.  So no one played outside in the morning.  All the kids came in ASAP and then we only went out for 10 minutes at lunch.  I swear it took more time getting the kids ready than it did to play outside!  We did play "What time is it Mr. Wolf?"  with them to have them run around a little then it was time to go inside.  We did a train to walk around and "pick up" everyone around the area then back to the gate and in the classroom.  I read the kids a book and then they were off to gym.  Great timing!

All in all a great day!

Here's hoping tomorrow is just as fun!  Then we are on our last week of school.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Happy Christmas!!

What a crazy few months this has been for us!  We have done so much in such a short period of time.  Here's a uber quick update:

Arnold - has been amazing and has bought our family a house, ripped up the flooring and a diving wall, redone the wall and ceiling, redone a new flooring, dealt with plumbing and a few other random things (the joys of owning a home!!)  He is doing ok at work.  We just had his kids Christmas party this past weekend.  All in all he is keeping busy

Kyler - Is really enjoying grade 3.  He loves Fridays when he gets gumballs if he was a good kid that week.  We got his report card and there are a few things for him to work on but generally doing ok.  His favourite thing is to watch mindcraft youtube videos right now. 

Quinton - loves loves loves mindcraft.  He is our little builder man.  He has spent hours building and destroying things on mindcraft.  He is doing well in school and loves playing with others.  Right now he is working on his printing.  We hope it gets better as time goes on.

Me - I'm doing ok.  Keeping super busy but it's going ok.  I'm down to one job now (only working at TDSB instead of at Forward as well) but enjoying it a lot!  I'm getting extra hours and slowly working on getting our house unpacked.

So for the general gist:

We started "looking" at home around the last weekend in September.  We got a phone number of someone who would be selling a house the Thursday before the long weekend.  Went to look at that house on the long weekend, put an offer in on the Monday (I believe) and had everything settled by that Friday.  It was such a short period.  We closed on the house October 22nd and began working on the house.   The carpet needed to come out, and the tiling in the basement, as well as the ceiling in the basement.  We had to put in new flooring (right down to the subfloor) upstairs, and put in some new carpet in the basement.

So far it's going ok.  It's "odd" owning a home but I'm loving it!

I'll do more of a home post soon but for now that's where we are!  Tonight we started our first day of advent with the boys and their lego advent calendar that daddy rushed out to get this morning.  Mama's been slacking on these things.

I'm excited to see how December goes for our Christmas time, as well as our first Christmas time in our new home!

I think next year we may stay in Toronto and celebrate here!!

Anyway... happy Christmas!!  I'll be back again soon, I promise :)

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

FYI.....

So today a blog post went around Facebook.  I had "shared" the post.  It is the following post:

http://givenbreath.com/2013/09/03/fyi-if-youre-a-teenage-girl/

I agree with her.  Sometimes you get those photos that aren't meant to be "selfies".  Those ones that are taken alone in your room/bathroom/closet/hallway/ect.  Those are the photos that I'm never sure what to say about.

While I agree that people need to be careful what they post and be careful where it gets posted, sometimes I feel we need to set our own limits.

Where is you limit on modesty?  I post a lot of photos on FB.  And to be honest not a lot of myself.  I'm not a real fan of having my own photos up there.

This past summer I did something I had been wanting to do for a while.  I went and had a boudoir photo shoot.  I wanted to know that I felt sexy still, that I was beautiful still and that most of all I was comfortable with me in my own skin.

I was so excited how everything turned out.  The pictures looked beautiful and I truly felt that way.  The best part was some of the photos were taken with my "normal" clothes.  IE clothes I wear to work or church. 

I shared one on Facebook:


It's my profile picture.  I spent a lot of time choosing a photo that didn't show too much skin, didn't show me in a way I thought would bother others.  Instead I chose those photo that was of me just before I burst out laughing about something we had talked about while shooting.  A photo of me I love. 

Does it show too much skin?  I don't know!   Personally I thought it was good.  I mean, I've even wore this outfit to church a few time already.  Anyone say anything?  yes!  I was told it looks good, it suited me, and that I looked really nice.

However with todays "FYI" article going around I was told otherwise.

A sister in Christ stopped by today and told me I should take it down.  She said that when I put it up she wished she had talked to me about it then and now she wanted me to know that with this link I had posted it made her want to come and talk to me more.  She told me that it may become a stumbling block to those I work with at church, or those who see my facebook page. 

Did I think about that when I posted the picture?  YES that's why I chose the one I did.  I wanted a picture of me where I looked beautiful, inside and out. 

So I've been asked to think about taking it down.  Have I thought about it?  Yes.  Do I want to?  I'm not sure.

That rebellious side of me says "no way!  This is my photo!  My choice to have it up there.  I wanted to finally look good and be happy with me and my body.  I wanted to share this!"

The good Christian girl inside me says "yes... change the photo, an go through past photos to see what you can take off"

To be perfectly honest, I'm typing this in tears.  Do I want others to stumble?  no!  Do I want to reach through the screen and shake people when they post picture that I think may make people stumble?  yes!  Can I change my attitude over night?  No.  But with God's help I know I can.

So for those who have felt this photo made you stumble.  I'm sorry.  It wasn't my intention at all.

For those who thought I looked pretty and said so, thank you!  Sometimes that's needed.

(Leading into a body image post I've been working on for a while... Sometimes it's easier to tell the skinny girls they look good than it is to tell the fat girls they look good)

While my picture on FB hasn't changed please know that I'm thinking and praying about it.  I've already called my hubby once in tears about this today and I know it's something we will be talking about later.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

September is Here Again!

That's right ladies and gents, September is here again!

We are gearing up for some "Down time".  That's right.  After our crazy summer we are excited to have some down time for our family.

This does mean going back to school, getting into routine, bringing a few new things into our family, and kicking out some old. 

I thought I would try to make a "plan" for each month.  I see you all out there rolling your eyes... me and my plans right?

Well so far this month our plan includes:
survival!

And maybe:
get into our routine
Arnold and I will both be gone 1 weekend out of the month
eat healthier (ie not eating out all the time)
stick to a budget and pay off some more of our CC's


Personal goals for everyone:

Arnold:
bike to work every day

Kyler:
eat healthy and grow strong

Quinton:
go to the park and tie my shoes

Miranda:
walk and lose weight


Today we are getting ready for the month.  I'm working on my grocery list and getting our calendar ready to go!  Quin is learning how to tie his shoes as I'm typing this out.  Hopefully it works out!

So... from our family to yours... WELCOME TO SEPTEMBER!!  I hope you have a wonderful month!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

I don't wanna....

Forewarning... I'm having a "night"  I'm bummed, mad and upset.  I can't take anymore "bad" things happening and I need to vent.  This is not something I'm looking for to be fixed, or "made better".  It's just me an my emotions.


I don't wanna have a house that's a mess
I don't wanna have a fridge that isn't full
I don't wanna have a dryer that needs 4 + times to dry 3 towels!
I don't wanna have boys who are having health problems
I don't wanna have sick family members
I don't wanna have people in my house that can't do things for themselves
I don't wanna have a husband who is the tech guy at our church
I don't wanna have a broken work computer
I don't wanna have lost all of my information from church
I don't wanna have to rebuild all of my work from the past 5 months
I don't wanna have to share my office/workspace with random people
I don't wanna have to leave my personal items from my life out of my office so others can't "use" my office
I don't wanna have to have our boat vacation cancelled
I don't wanna have a dad who has cancer
I don't wanna have dad's cancer be such a concern that they up his radiation
I don't wanna lose my father
I don't wanna see my mom panic all the time
I don't wanna see my parent's move
I don't wanna lose my only "home" I've known since I've been married
I don't wanna go to a cottage for vacation (it reminds me of the last time I was at a cottage pregnant with Otis)
I don't wanna cry so much
I don't wanna be alone so much
I don't wanna have to hide my feelings
I don't wanna keep things inside for fear of making people upset
I don't wanna be left out of choices that affect me even if I'm not full time
I don't wanna be bumped from my schools job placement
I don't wanna be renting
I don't wanna be the "responsible one"
I don't wanna be the one that has to make everything better
I don't wanna be the one that stresses out about everything
I don't wanna be a stress eater
I don't wanna have a "big belly" like my boys say
I don't wanna be lazy
I don't wanna be a slob
I don't wanna be someone who can't lose weight
I don't wanna be on blood pressure meds
I don't wanna have an unmarked grave for my son
I don't wanna use their markers for his site
I don't wanna take up 2 people's "spaces" for Otis and Baby Casey
I don't wanna have babies who are dead
I don't wanna "see them in heaven"... I want them here now
I don't wanna just be a family of "2 boys on earth and 2 babies in heaven"
I don't wanna be "that mom"
I don't wanna be dealing with stress in an unhealthy way
I don't wanna look at the scale every Friday and want to cry
I don't wanna have a husband who spends more time running around doing things for others than spending time with his kids
I don't wanna be demanding my husband spend time with his family
I don't wanna be someone who stresses about money
I don't wanna be someone who can't keep their life in order
I don't wanna have a mother-in-law who has cancer
I don't wanna be here in Ontario and not be able to be there when she has her big appointment
I don't wanna be so far away from all our family
I don't wanna.....
I don't wanna.....

I just don't wanna.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

What a Summer!

I'm sure this is a crazy post to be putting up but I feel like our summer is over!  I don't mean like our summer is actually over but it sure feels like it.

Our summer has been a world wind of adventure.

It started the day school was over!  Arnold and Quinton headed to Edmonton/Calgary and went to visit family.  It's a tradition for our family to go and visit Alberta family.  When the boys "Graduate" they get to go.  Since there is a graduation ceremony for the kids from SK to grade 1 our boys get excited to go to Alberta.

While the big and little boy were in Alberta I was in Sarnia with Kyler!  We had a great few days there.  Between playing in the pool, having friends over for Canada Day, going to church and visiting our vacation was packed full.

We came home in time for Kyler to get his first tooth pulled from the dentist and for me to work for a few days.

Kyler and I picked up Arnold and Quinton and our fun began!

We had 2 days as our family of 4 and then the fun arrived!

Amber and Lisa arrived and we started the fun.  We did our first week at Forward Baptist Church for Kingdom Rock!  It was so much fun.  It was a half-day day camp.  We got there at 9am and then we were home around noon.  The kids had a lot of fun.  And cute t-shirts to prove it!

That weekend we chilled out and played at home.  Sunday brought us into a new week.

A New week of fun!

We started the Zoo camp.  Zoo Camp was for everyone!  All 4 of them headed out at 8:25am and I picked them up at 3:30pm.  We had a lot of fun.  Every day the kids came home with something new they had learned and were excited to start it all over again.  They had a great time and really enjoyed the Pandas.

That Saturday morning Aunt B came and picked up the girls.  So started our week alone.  While it was alone things got crazy!  We didn't really get any downtime but hey, that happens, right?

We headed to Sarnia on Friday.  Kyler, Quinton and I went to get Arnold from work.  Since he works late Monday to Thursday he gets to leave half day Fridays.  We were on the road and very little traffic!  It was great.  We stopped in Cambridge and picked up the girls early and then we were *so* quick that we even stopped and dropped off the coats that needed to be repaired at the Columbia headquarters in London. 

The 6 of us arrived in Sarnia in time to see the moving truck moving out the last of my grandparents things from my parents house.  While on the way home my mom had texted me and told me they were thinking of moving. 

I went into high gear that week.  I worked on the basement on Saturday and Sunday and we got the rooms cleaned up, took 4 trips to Goodwill and even got some taping done to paint a few areas in the house.  Monday I finished up the rest and got some painters out to work on the house.  The Student Painters came out and did our house and I got a "break" on Friday.

During this week the kids were at Temple Baptist Day Camp.  This year was so much fun for the 4 of them.  I dropped them off around 8:50am or so and picked them up around 4-4:30pm.  They had a blast!  While we did have to visit the lost and found table at least 3 of the 5 days it was still a great time by all.  I really loved hearing the things they had learned and how much fun they had.

By Friday we had a great pool night.  The kids played in the pool ALL NIGHT!  Finally, after doing glow in the dark time, I kicked them off to bed around 10:15pm or so.

Saturday morning Becca started her trip down to Sarnia.  The plan was to do some shopping for the kids.  You know... Back to school shopping :)  Becca ended up having a tire blow on her van and no spares.  We had to send backup (ie Arnold and Dad).  They went out and fixed her up.  All in all it took about 3 hours more than expected. 

Mom had to go to work by then so Arnold, Kyler, Quinton, Becca, Amber, Lisa, and myself hit the malls.  We went to Children's place, payless, Wal-Mart, Bonnie Togs, and home again.  Lots of crazy times.  We got almost everything.  I have to say the "Do you really need that?  If you buy it Auntie M is getting rid of the SAME out fit you have at home" works :)  Got to love carrying the money from mom and dad :)

We got home and showed our treasures off to Nana and Papa.  Then Aunt B and Arnold headed out to get our vans fixed.  Ours was there but Beccas needed a new tire for it. 

All of us headed out that night.  It worked out well as my parents listed their house on the Sunday night.

We had a few days to chill and just veg in front of the TV or elsewhere.  I think the kids really needed it.  This is the first summer things have seemed so hard core.  It was great for me as I really needed to get work done and having them in camps during the day was fantastic.

Monday evening (after we had a great lunch with friends) Aunt B brought the girls back over for the week.

This week they are doing Swim Camp.  So far it's been a bust but hey!  Tuesday they showed up and the pool had no chlorine in it.  It was horrible.  Wednesday it still wasn't fixed.  So I had to sign a waver saying the kids could go on the bus and go elsewhere for their lessons.  No big deal for me.  Wednesday was ok since they were all out at the Toronto Island.  They had a great time. 

Lisa and I are chilling.  See, she is too little to go!  So instead she has hung out with Uncle Jack one day, then a babysitter (Anna) the next.  And today we are going to the movies.  If only Auntie M could read the right movie theater we would be set.  hopefully I've got it right now.

Sunday morning everyone comes here and we do our family day at the zoo.  We are pretty excited.

Oh and this week... my parents sold their house and bought a new one!  Their closing date for both houses is August 30th.  Our last day on the houseboat!  Was an exciting week!

Because of the sale being so quick it means that Arnold and I are not getting our week alone with no kids.  I have to work (I need the hours as I'm not working the last week in August).  So I'm going into work on Monday and Tuesday.  Thankfully there is no bulletin to be done so I'm just going to be getting those little pesky things done that need to get done.  Hopefully it helps get the office in order. 

Right now (which means things ALWAYS change) I'm thinking of heading out on  Tuesday around noon or so.  I'm hoping it gives me light traffic.  I'll head to Sarnia and start packing.  I'll pack Tuesday night, Wednesday and Thursday.  I'm aiming to come home on Thursday night and have a half a day with Arnold and no kids.  Then we will pick them up in Cambridge on Saturday, as planned.

This is where our family of 6/7 ends.  Amber and Lisa get to hang out with their grandparents for a week and our boys are doing the Boys and Girls Day camp at the end of the road.  I'm really excited for them.  Their adventure is going to the movies!! 

During the week I'm going to be working at church (hopefully getting 4 bulletins done in one week) and then, if time allows, decluttering my house!

Becca, Amber, and Lisa arrive on Thursday night!  Arnold, Kyler, Quinton and I will be taking Lisa up to the boat and Becca will come on Saturday with Amber and Jack.  Mom and Dad will be arriving then as well.  We are out on the boat for a bit.  Mom and Dad need to come back on the Wednesday.  We have the boat until Friday.  Then we all head down and help them finish moving.

I believe we are going to stay in Sarnia that weekend and "camp" in their new big backyard!  Finally we get to camp AND use the tent we got 2 Christmases ago!!  (I'm excited for this!)

We will head back to Toronto on Monday and Tuesday... School starts.

See how our summer seems a bit crazy?

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

It's almost Back to School!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

shopping that is :)

Today the boys and I are going through their closets in an effort to see just what they need for school in September.  On Saturday, August 3rd, we are doing our "Big Back To School Shopping".

Our boys are so blessed that every year, just before school starts, Nana takes them shopping and gets them "Set to go" for the year.  When they started school it was buying a backpack, getting indoor runners and getting socks, underwear, shirts, pants, ect.  The whole list.

Each year things change a bit.  I won't let both my boys get backpacks at the same year (mainly cause they are $30.00 and they both don't need to buy one each year).  So this year it's K's turn... but both backpacks are good to go so no backpacks this year.

Kyler does need a new lunch bag, but Q's is fine (since this is his first year of doing lunches at school it's barely been used since we got it 2 years ago).

Quinton will need new pants this year, as he has grown like there is no tomorrow.

Kyler need new socks (even though we just got him new ones)

And slowly we will figure out just what everyone needs.

So for now I venture into the boys closets and get their "back to school shopping lists" complete... wish me luck! 

If there is no movement from me on FB in a while, sent help!!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Oh my goodness!!!

I can't believe how far behind I've gotten!  Sorry readers!  I'm working on it I swear!

2 weeks ago we had our Kingdom Rock Kids Camp.  It was so much fun.  The kids loved it and the CD's sent home were perfect!

Last week we had Zoo camp.  It was so crazy busy.  With dropping the kids off and then coming home and going to work then going back to the zoo updating our blog wasn't really an option.  I'm hoping next week, our "down week", is a bit easier to handle!

So for now.

Enjoy your summer!!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ HAPPY CANADA DAY!!!

While I have a post that works perfectly for this week I'm posting a picture of my "family" today.  Kyler and I are the only ones in Ontario this Canada Day.  So we are going to have fun and celebrate the best we can.



He has grown up so much since our first Canada Day!

Monday, June 24, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Money, Part 3

Last month we talked about Grocery Budget and how our family makes it work for us.  Not you, but our family.  US.  It works for US.  Please keep this in mind while reading these posts.

This month I'm writing about our budget. 

This took a while for it to come about and for it to finally be something that works for US.

When we first started DR (Dave Ramsey) I had SO many things on our budget list.  They were a list of:


Groceries
Books
Gas and Oil
Car Repairs and Tires
Clothing – Arnold
Clothing – Miranda
Clothing – boys
Baby-sitter
Christmas
hair care
blow money (spending money)
entertainment/dinning out
church tithing
medical (co pay and prescriptions)
household
Next big thing – Piano tuner
Next big thing – Camera
Next big thing – Computer/Photo drive
NOT included are things like bills/rent/CC's, anything paid for directly from our account 
- the last 3 things "Next big thing" were not part of the DR program but I needed them
Now our "budget"  looks like this:

Rent
Bank Fees
Offering
Internet
Resp
Insurance
Student Loan
Cell Phones
Mir Visa - CC
Arnold Visa - CC
Arnold MC - CC
Mir MC - CC
Mental Health
Food
Gas/oil/car
Entertainment/Eating Out
Education/Book Orders
Medical/Health
Christmas/Birthday
Commuting Cost

While there may be "more" lists they aren't as detailed as they were before.  We have found some things work better for and some don't.  For example... We save about 40.00 a month for Christmas/Birthday.  But during the summer months we kinda "lax" on that.  Not because we don't want to do it but because we don't have many birthdays or anything to go to or do.

About 2 months ago we added in our "Mental Health" fund.  It's $40.00 a month.  It's mainly for when I just can't handle cooking, we have nothing ready or I just need out of the house.  we use that to help with whatever the cost might be.  So if we have 20.00 left in our entertainment/eating out budget that's enough for a babysitter.  And Arnold and I can go out on the 40.00 from the mental health category.

We have also switched pays since we started DR.  When we had started we were paid on the 15th and the last day of the month.  Now we are paid every 2 weeks.  This means that there are 2 months where we get paid 3 times a month.

This just happen for us.  We were paid 3 times this month. Last year I didn't quite "get" it so this year I was really careful.  I put away the 2 weeks worth of grocery money, 2 weeks worth of gas money, part of our rent money and 2 of our things that have to be paid every month.  we had enough "left over" to put $500.00 on a CC and $500.00 into savings for this summer's boat trip.  And to help this summer if needed.

So here's the breakdown of our budget, so you have an idea:

Rent:  Our rent is taken out on the 1st of every month.  Our Rent budget include our utilities (which are included in our rent cheque).  We save the month before for the next month.  For example.  This month we have been putting some money away each pay to cover July's rent.

Bank Fees:  We pay more than we "should" but this covers anything and everything.  We have unlimited bank accounts (we currently have 6); up to 10 e-transfers a month (we use anywhere from 2 to 4 a month); and unlimited transactions.

Offering:  We have started to do our churches direct withdraw from our bank account.  It comes out on the last day of the month.

These three accounts (Rent, Bank Fees and Offering) are saved for in one account labeled "Rent" in our bank.

Internet:  My husbands work pays for a portion of our internet.  This is because Arnold is on at least 1 pager rotation a month (prime and secondary) and needs the internet at home in order to keep it working.  While it doesn't cover it all it does cover part of it.  We have this bill automatically taken out from our CC.  This was something that was needed to set it up.  And for us, it works well (not recommended by DR).  We take the first pay each month and put on the amount of our bill to the CC right away.  Then the bill come in and the amount we have put on "credits" the amount that is billed.  Then the money we get from hubbys work goes into our budget as well.  We have had to upgrade as we host a server in our house and we have enough people using the internet that it's needed.

RESP:  We started this when Kyler was born.  It's a Registered Education Savings Plan.  We put $25.00 per month per child away for this.  It's not something that we *should* be doing yet (according to DR) but this was something we needed so Arnold would feel more comfortable doing this program.  He wanted to know that even if it took us 18 years to pay everything off our kids would have something for school.

Insurance:  We pay this from our bank account every month.  It comes out on the 22nd or so.  It's for our liability, our car, Arnold's bike, and our contents. 

Student Loans:  My Student Loans were paid off last year (thank you for all your help!) and now we are plugging away at the loans Arnold has.  Which is a lot.  These will take us way more time than we want them too but that is ok.  We know why we got them and they are a loan we can handle for now.  Every few months Arnold does apply for "interest relief" because we can't afford the complete payment.  We have been blessed in the past few months to be able to put a little more on the loans.  A few hundred here and a few hundred there have helped us to get them down a bit more.

Cell Phones:  One thing you will see is we do NOT have a home phone on our bill. When we moved to Toronto we got a home phone and something happen and it fried!  So we figured, why keep 2 cell phones and a home phone.  So my cell is our "home phone".  Arnold's phone is truly the cell phone.  My phone doesn't stay at home however.  This has been a bit of an "issue" when hiring babysitters.  Our Babysitters need to have cell phones or something to contact people if help is needed.  We have left one of our phones at home every once and a while.

Mir Visa/Arnold Visa/Arnold MC/Mir MC:  These are our credit cards (duh!).  We made some serious mistakes years ago and are paying for them now.  Truly.  We are working on getting them paid off.  When we started the DR program we had 6 CC, a family loan and 2 student loans.  We are now down to 4 CC's and that's it :)  This does make me happy. I realize not for everyone but we are good with this.  The DR program recommends that you put your lowest amount CC first.  You pay that off then use the payments you would have paid to "snowball" to the next CC and get it paid off asap.  While I believe you can "live" without CC's in Canada I feel like we need to each have one.  I'm closing my VISA and Arnold will close his MC.  This way we have one VISA and one MC.  Each, that we are keeping, are the lowest interest rates of them all.  However... DH's VISA is our lowest balance.  We aren't paying that one off as fast as possible but it is on our list. 

Mental Health: As I explained above, this one was just added in to make sure I don't go crazy!

Food: Our Food budget is taken out in 2 week intervals.  I used to do shopping once a month  (see last post) but now I'm going weekly.  This is helping us out a lot more.  And it makes me putting money aside for it every month helpful.  Our food budget does include things like Food, cleaning products, possible needs for the house.

Gas/Oil/Car:  This budget is mainly for the Gas/Oil part.  See, we started, what most people call, a "sinking fund" for the Car.  We know one day we will need to replace it.  For now.  We have about $1,000.00 put aside to help repair the car, or help to buy a new one if we need to.  We just recently brought our car in to get the AC fixed (cause I don't want to melt in the car) and that came out of our car budget.  We will build it back up as "extra" cash comes in.  We never let it go under $500.00

Entertainment/Eating Out:  I don't know about you but I have never been able to go a whole month without eating out.  And with our crazy schedules sometimes it's good to have this as an option.  This covers going out to a movie (which we rarely do) and going to have dinner out.  If we go as a whole family (5-6 people depending on the day and time) it can cost us anywhere form $50-$80.00.  This isn't too bad, but sometimes I'm in shock how much we spend.  This helps us to realize we need to pick good days to go out.

Education/Book Orders:  We put this in when K went to school.  There were so many things I had forgotten about that I wanted to be able to do for K and Q at school.  They have a "Nutrition Program" where you pay $2.00 a week (Toonie Tuesday) and we get money to help run the program.  I've begun to learn more about it and know that at last 2 people in every classroom NEED this program.  They didn't have breakfast or anything so they can't make it to lunch.  If they have a lunch. This program helps our kids have food to eat.  We also have book orders.  Lately we have limited how much we can spend on it each month.  One month K picks a book (below $10.00 unless they pitch in their own money) and the next month Q does.  It's a great help for keeping the cost down.

Medical/Health:  This covers drugs :)  I am on BP meds and this covers my meds.  I get most of the cost covered by our health plan (taken right off Arnold's pay cheque) but I still have to pay the fee for getting it.  It also covers things like headache meds, drugs for my sinus cold last month, the kids meds when they have colds or are sick.  That kind of stuff.  This is something we do have a "cap" on.  We never have more than $100.00 in this budget.  It just doesn't make sense.

Christmas/Birthday:  This one, as I've said above, is hard.  We have K's bday in March, Q's bday in April, my bday in October, Arnold's bday in November.  And then Christmas.  So we don't "need" money in the summer time for birthdays but it changes now and then.  We are also beginning to experience friends birthdays and going to their parties.  We have had to increase our budget a bit.  We know that at Christmas we spend, maybe more than others.  So we take what we spent last year, add about $50.00 (since prices always climb) and we budget that out for 12 months.  Then add some extra for birthday times as well.  Every year it's different but generally we can handle it. all.

Commuting Costs:  This is part of the reason our "Gas" budget isn't as high.  And why we only have one "car".  Arnold has a bike that is a big part of our savings.  He saves about $5.50 a day by biking.  While that may not seem like a lot to you, and sometimes to him (mainly on days it's raining) he loves biking.  It keeps him in shape, he does something, most others don't and he loves setting an example to the kids of what he can do.  In a month, if Arnold bikes every week day, and there are no vacations, we save $110.00 a month.   This is in our budget, not as a saving, but knowing that we still need to spend money on it.  Arnold's bike needs new things all the time.  It's like another car (and sometimes I'm pretty sure it gets more KM's than our car does!).  We try to put aside $40.00 a month to help with the costs of repairs.  If it's not all used it gets socked away for the Bike Show in Toronto when we go and he gets new shoes/gloves/tubes/ect to stock up at home.  He also takes the TTC to get to work in the winter months (sometimes) so we pay for that, which means our costs go up in October until March.  They are between $95.00 to $110.00 (depending  on vacation times/days).

Anyway... this is our budget.  I know there is so much more I wish I could help you understand but I can only tell you what I have done.  If you have questions please let me know.  I'll do my best to answer them.  Remember this is what works for US.  Not the whole world but what works for US.

Next month I'm going to write about "sinking funds" and how important it is to have those around.  Even if you don't own a home!

Monday, June 17, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Happy Father's Day!

While we didn't get Arnold anything "big" this year we did spend time together.  Check out the men in my life:

Monday, June 10, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Loving When Things Are Hard

**If you have read much of this blog, or follow me on FB you know that we have lost 2 babies last year.  I want to say first and foremost I know not everyone has experienced this type of loss.  So that being said I'm going to try and gear this post to something else that's "hard" instead.**


Hard

Things are always hard right?

Sometimes we take on too much

Sometimes we have too much time to spend doing/thinking about the "hard" things

And sometimes we just have to deal with it head on.


When I took my Doula classes I learned more about the "fight or flight" reactions we have as humans.  When something "hard" happens we can either "fight" the problem or we can "flight" run from it.  I knew during our study it was more of an in pain thing but it really works for just about anything.

The other day in class (I volunteer in my son's SK class) the class was just driving me crazy.  Like completely crazy.  It doesn't help that I was getting sick (realizing that now when I look back) and things were just hard.  I took that time to say to the teacher "ok, I'm done!  I cant' deal with them anymore" and I walked away and went to do something else.  I know it's not just me, as others have said the same thing but it was that "flight" sense coming in.  I ran from the problem.  Instead of dealing with these kids I walked away and didn't bother.  It "wasn't worth it".

Yes, we all have things that "aren't worth it".  For example, our kid wants to wear the blue sweater instead of the green one.  Fine.  It's not worth it. 

Something I truly believe is "worth it" not matter what happens is my relationship with my husband.  He is worth it more than anything.

I was watching a news clip on the computer the other day about how someone said she puts her relationship with her husband before her one with her children.  It got such a flack for that comment.

But I agree (sort of).  My relationship with God is #1.  While I don't spend enough time with Him I know it's my #1 thing in my life.  (and I'm working on my time management!)  My relationship with my husband is #2.  My relationship with my kids #3 and all other things come behind that.

My husband and I need to be that example for my children.  That example of how a good, loving, godly relationship needs to work.  We may not be the perfect example (in fact I know we aren't) but I feel like we are a good one for our kids and our family.  We have seen what works and doesn't work in our own parents relationship and we move on to make ours work better.

A few months ago we had a couple of weeks that we knew things weren't going well.  I was having problems; Arnold was having problems and together nothing was working.  We had such a hard time.

We ended up stating that needed time apart.  Arnold spent more time upstairs and I spent more time in the basement.  In our own time, we both realized that this wasn't going to work.  As much as living as "roommates" in our own home something wasn't going to work.  Something needed to be fixed. 

And Fast

Part of me wanted to run home to my parents.  I wanted to pack up the kids and run away.  (Flight)  I was going to get as far away from this as I could.  I didn't want to deal with the problem.  I had no energy left to deal with what was happening. 

The other part of me wanted to stick it out, talk about it and work through this.

Something you have to realize about Arnold is he is *not* a talker at all.  He doesn't like talking things out.  Talking about things over and over again.  Or sometimes, I'm pretty sure of this, listening to me talk it to death and hope it comes back to life again to talk about it some more!

I'm the talker.

As I sat down to do my devotions one of the days during this I realized that it wasn't all these things I thought were hard.  It was something Arnold and I had piled on and on and didn't talk about or deal with for such a long time that we had to get *that* out in the open.  God showed me just what needed to be talked about, figured out and how to deal with it.

Arnold and I got through it.  It took awhile.  Almost learning to trust each other again.  But we both knew our relationship was a fighting one.  Not a running one. 

We need to fight for each other.  This also means, for us, carving out time to spend together.  And really it's not always talking; snuggling on the couch; or making out (mind you those ARE fun :) )  It's more things like working beside each other on the couch; being close; understanding that we both have our differences but we both need to find that time to be together.  And this is ours.

We are now back to watching a TV show together.  It kind of helps us to connect.  We spend 45 minutes together hanging out.  Arnold will play on his computer or phone.  I check my phone every once and a while and I'll watch a TV show.  Currently playing in our house is JAG.   Before that was NCIS and NCIS LA.

I'm not fond of Dr. Who (which is Arnold's favourite) so sometimes I'll handle the star trek tv shows we watch.

I guess what I'm rambling about is you need to decide from the beginning of your relationship.  Will you "fight" for each other?  Or will you get on the first "flight" and get out of there?

Friday, June 7, 2013

My 6 Month Check Up

Yesterday I had my 6 month PP Check up with my Blood Pressure Dr. 

I'll fully admit this one scared me more than anything.  I was so worried things would go wrong, I'd get bad test results and it would just be horrible. I voiced my concern to Arnold and he booked the day off.  Everyone, except Quinton, had some kind of appointment yesterday.

First off our day was crazy.  We were up, fed and out the door with Kyler by 6:45am.  That in itself is a HUGE deal as K is our "teenager" as far as sleeping and eating go.  He would rather be sleeping than getting up so early.

The boys (Arnold and K) dropped me off at work and headed to their dentist appointment.  Kyler's tooth needs to be polished down (as his jaw is still working a bit lopsided) or just pulled (as his Adult tooth is there already).

They went home and Arnold walked them to school and did some talking to people for his accountant duties for the Parent Council.

While I was still at work Arnold had his physical to do and then came to my work.  I left around noon and we went to Subway for lunch.  (thankfully Jack had the day off so he went and got Q from school)  While Arnold and I were at lunch the boys school called and Kyler hurt himself.  He has a tiny split on his knee and she wanted us to come and look at it if we could decide what to do.  The school board can't do anything but rinse it with water and put a band aid on it.  So we brought our "on the go" polysporn spray and stopped by to look at it.  A tiny split but not too worried.  Kyler let me spray it on (with a few tears) and then we put a butterfly band aid on it and another one on top just to keep it in place and then we were off to race to the hospital.

I went up to the 7th floor (silly maternity floor) and Arnold stopped by the lab to double check his recs from his appointment and what he needs to do.  I was sitting there blogging on my fitness blog and I realized... I didn't take my BP meds that morning!  How could I have done that!  And on such an important day!

Thankfully my BP was only 139/92.  Truly not that bad considering no drugs and on my least favourite floor in the hospital.

So we went in and talked with her.  I fessed up that I had forgotten to take my meds that morning and she wasn't too worried.  She said I'm on the boarder of not taking them or taking them.  While I'm on them my BP is *PERFECT* so now it's more of lifestyle changes than anything.  I'm staying on the drugs until we know for sure.

As far as lifestyle changes that includes, cutting back on my salt (little to none), watching my calories, and exercising.  Also getting my BMI to a reasonable number.  Right now my BMI is horrible. I need to weight 118 - 155 lbs to be in the proper BMI number. 

My dr told me to lose about 1 pound per week.  From what I weighted June 1st (which was the number we were going off - 239lbs).  I need to lose 84 pounds to get me right at 155.  So one pound a week... that's over 1 year of losing weight. 

Right now I go back and see her in September.  It's 18 weeks away.  So my goal is to be down to 220lbs by then.

So my tests results:

I was tested for anything and everything and we even added a few.  I was reading more about BP and I noticed one common thing was diabetes and I was scared about that.  I also wanted my thyroid to get tested.  So I did my blood work and was sent home with a 24 hour urine collection container.  I did that and brought it back to them.

EVERYTHING came back A-OK!!!  Negative for diabetes, negative for thyroid issues, negative for Lupus (something that is a big reason for BP issues), negative for protein in my urine. Kidney function normal; liver function normal.  Everything was wonderful!  I was told the only thing that was "up" was uric acid (sp) in my urine.  She said it comes when you may have a higher chance of getting kidney stones.  I told her I had already had kidney stones when I was in university and she said "oh well that's it!". 

So everything is ok.

I have the choice of taking myself of my own meds but I'm a little worried about that.  So instead I'm going to go back and see her in September.  Partly so I can get a script refilled (I could at my family dr if I needed) and partly to have that motivation to get down my 18 pounds before I see her.

All in All, I'm happy with how things are going. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Encouragement only please!

AKA Don't Dis Your Dude!

Do you remember when the big Christian movie came out?  It was called "Fireproof".  Everyone was all behind their challenge to "fireproof" your marriage.  It was a wonderful movie and what an incredible back story.  Working on your marriage every day for 30 days.  Seeing what God can do in just 30 days of loving your spouse.

Well I decided to do the challenge.  At that point in our marriage things weren't shaky but they weren't as good as they are now.  I was so excited about this challenge until I read the first day:

Don't put down your spouse.

"Love Dare Day #1
Today's Dare:

The first part of this dare is fairly simple.  Although love is communicated in a number of ways, our words often reflect the condition of our heart.  For the next day, resolve to demonstrated patience and to say nothing negative to your spouse at all.  If the temptation arises, choose not to say anything.  It's better to hold your tongue than to say something you will regret.

Did anything happen today to cause anger towards your mate?  Were you tempted to think disapproving thoughts and to let them come out in words?"

I thought, dang, that's so easy!  Who would have thought that *this* would be hard?  I mean come on, just say nice things right?

Well... that evening we had our C&C group over from church.  And it's not that we "bad talk" our friends but sometime when we play games we get a little edgy.  I had to bite my tongue so hard to not say anything bad about Arnold.  I couldn't think of good things.  It was horrible. 

I wrote some examples in my journal for that time.  They were things that bothered me from the night where I had to be careful to not say anything mean to him.


The C&C group had finished watching a movie and were going to play a game.  I started looking around for my diet coke and I asked DH if he knew where it was and he said I finished it.  I said ok!  He goes did you want your THIRD?  With this tone.  I said nope I'm just fine.  He goes Good!  Everyone was like... woooh.  Normally we 'get snarky' or something but not today.  It was kinda weird.

Another example was that the boys were in bed and I was getting worried he was coughing so much.  I asked Arnold to go and check on him and he said no.  I bit my tongue and then about 10 minutes later a few the other people asked if he was ok.  Arnold finally went to check on him.  It really bothered me that he didn't do it when I asked.
As you can see they weren't really bad examples but it got me worried.  If it was so hard to hold my tongue for the 3 hours our friends were over does that mean that it's hard for me on a daily basis?

Things have improved a lot in the past 4 years (this was 2009 we did this).  We have learned to communicate.  I know how to explain how I'm feeling without putting him down in the process.  I've learned to leave things in the past and not use them as "amo" for the next fight.  And most of all I've learned that God can help me do these things.

So readers :)  When you are talking to your hubby try to use encouraging phrases for them.  I find that a bit of encouragement goes far.  VERY far!

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Happy 6 Months in Heaven!

Today marks my baby's 6 months in heaven!  He is so lucky!

This past Sunday night my boys were asking what a funeral was (our youth pastor's grandmother died and I just couldn't go... I just couldn't....).  Arnold explained it to them and you know what Kyler's response was?  Steve's Gran would be with Otis.  And Q got all excited knowing that Otis would have someone else in heaven with him.

Some days...

Some days I fully wish it was me with him.  Some days the heart ache is so bad I can barely stand up straight.  Some days I just shut down.  I just can't take it anymore.

Then there are others, which like today, I try to make myself so busy I can just "forget".  I try to forget what happen, forget our hell we lived through in 2012 and forget that I have a baby in heaven.

I pack my life and my days up with so much I hardly have room to breath.  Some days that is just easier for me.

Some days...

Some days I wonder why I'm not "where I should be" for having a baby 6 months ago.  Some days I wonder why my body has gone back to "normal", why my hair is still falling out, and why my emotions are no where close to being in check.

Then there are days when I feel like I'm finally in control.  Finally getting better.  And finally doing "ok" with my life.

Today I'm so sad my baby is in heaven.  But I am so glad he is there with his Father. 

Some days...

Some days are better than others.  But I do know Otis was and is loved more than I could express. 

And for those of you going through this... this is *normal*.  These feelings, this is normal.  And don't anyone tell you otherwise.  Grief is so completely normal.  In the way that there is nothing normal about it.  Some days rock, and some days suck.  That's just how it goes.  But... when there are more sucky days than "rocking" days find someone to talk to.  Please.  I do and it helps.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Money, Part 2

Finally!  A Marriage Monday post that hasn't been forgotten, photo cop-out post or one of those things.  I'm ready to get back into this if I can.

Last month we talked about our first Marriage Monday Money post.  It was a super duper quick back story on why we are using the Dave Ramsey plan and what we are doing.

This month, as promised, I'm going to write about our grocery budget, and how we make that work for US.  While this plan may or may not work for you I'm hoping it gives you an idea of someone else does it.

I've written about this before... way back when.  It was a post called "Menu Planning"  I wrote all about how I menu plan for our family.  Since then things have been adjusted but the main idea is still the same thing.  PLANNING! 

That's right.  Planning.  You have to plan.

I've started doing these devotionals by Dave Ramsey on my "Youverson" Bible App.  The second day has this paragraph about planning:

"Jesus taught a similar lesson when He talked about discipleship in Luke 14:28-30.  He said no one building a tower would move forward on construction without sitting down to "count the cost".  After all, quitting halfway because the resources dried up would make the builder a laughingstock.  The foundation for his tower would become a monument to his incompetence."

While I don't feel like Dave is saying "only try once and if you fail you suck" more of a "keep trying, budgeting, and PLANNING so you don't fail"  While setbacks happen, and he knows it, we have to keep trying, over and over and over again!

We plan our grocery budget out a lot.  When I was writing the menu planning post (3 years ago) our budget was around $200.00 per 2 weeks.  I did 15 days at a time.   So around $400.00 to $450.00 a month for me.

Since then our family has changed.  We now have 3 adults living in the house.  We are trying to eat healthier (which sometimes means more money) and we are generally careful with what we have to get. 

Not only do we have 3 adults in our house but 2 little boys who eat almost more than their daddy (depending on the day and the meal).  Things got a little more expensive.

I now grocery shop almost the same way.  The flyers are still a great help, and I love knowing sales and not.  I do keep an eye out for our staples (ie, nutragrain bars, cereal, prepackaged rice crispy squares, pasta, sauces, soups, anything pantry wise).  If those are on sale we grab them right away. A great example is today.  We went grocery shopping and spent about $160.00 for 1 week.  *I should say our budget for foods is $185.00 per 7 days/week*  While we were shopping we picked up 2 boxes of KD; 4 boxes of prepackaged rice crispy squares; 2 boxes of cereals; 2 cans of "sloppy joe mix"; 4 cans of soup; 2 jars of seasoning (we need 1 this week and they were a good sale); and 2 freezer garlic breads that were on sale.  Everything was at least 50 cents to 4 dollars off what they normally are.

This is the reason our budget is higher.  We have made "wiggle room" for items we want to buy at a later/earlier date.  It helps us a lot.

I spend some time planning out my meals.  While I'm not as "fun new meals" in our house, I do try new things.  And of those things I do try I attempt to make most of them with things I currently have in my house, not things I have to go and spend lots and lots of money on!

I plan out my meals for 1 to 2 weeks.  We have now made "days" in our house.  Days that certain items are served in/on.  For example.  Tuesdays are "taco Tuesdays" we have chicken tacos, beef tacos, wraps, taco lasagna, ect.  Wednesdays are "Waffle Wednesdays".  I make waffles in the morning and I have them at lunch as well.  I do make a few extra and put them in the freezer for the weekends when the boys want a waffle and I'm not up to make them.  The take them out of the freezer, toss them in the toaster and we are good to go!.  Thursdays, I try, most of the time, to do a Crockpot meal or something super simple as Thursdays are our most busy day.  Fridays are "Burger Friday".  We have quino(sp) burgers, chicken burgers, beef burgers, veggie burgers, homemade burgers, ect.  Anything we can think of.  We keep trying to come up with something new to make it work!

When I'm choosing the meals I try to get some input. Today was the best.  I asked everyone on the way home what they would like to have for dinners this week.  I got a response from Jack of "do you have any meals that have leftovers?" Which made me suddenly realized the past few weeks our freezer meals for the guys have gone down to nothing!!!  So that's the plan this week.

Our week looks like this:

Sunday: Sloppy Joes tonight (way to use up the buns left over from Fridays burger night)
Monday: Chicken pot pie (to get leftovers for the guys)
Tuesday: Beef Taco Wraps
Wednesday: Ramen Noodles with veggies (Kyler wanted noodles and I wanted asparagus)
Thursday: Pork and Hashbrown skillet (something super easy)
Friday: Chicken burgers
Saturday: Perogies and Bacon


When I made up the meals, taking into consideration what everyone wanted/needed, we ended up with this.

Our grocery list was a bit different.  I didn't have time to flyer shop (I swear I normally do) so we went to my "trusted store" and got everything.  Then to M&M's to get the last few things which I know are cheaper and taste better there, and one last stop at Walmart (while doing something else there) to get some hashbrowns because for some reason our grocery store doesn't sell the small cut hashbrowns.

When we got all of our groceries anything that needed to be packaged up or put away was done as soon as we got in the door.  If it's something to make it last longer we do it.  For example, our asparagus was so "woody and dry" at the bottom I cut some off and placed it in a dish of water in the fridge.  We will rinse any fruit we can and get things ready to be eaten right away. 

We do our best to make sure our groceries are bought when we will use them, and only how much we will use.

When I was doing my past Menu Planning post I found that most of our food was put in the compost or out in the garbage.  We just weren't using it up like we should have.  We still have that problem with a few things, but generally with only buying what we need and when we need it, this helps a lot.  Once a week grocery shopping has made this easier and better for us to only purchase what we need.

I've also found it good for our marriage.  When we were pregnant with Otis I had Arnold start grocery shopping with me.  For me, it was hard to push the cart so Arnold came to do the heavy lifting and keep me grounded while doing this.  Now it's just something we "like" to do together.  I'm pretty sure I enjoy it more but that's how it works!

I like having Arnold with me.  We talk about what foods we are eating, how much things cost and where our money is going, how our weeks were, any plans we have for the rest of the week.  And we have been so blessed to have Jack home most Sundays.  He will watch the kids, once they have been fed and we can go out alone.  If not we use that time as a "teaching moment" for the kids to understand costs of things, where items are found, how things are spelled, brand vs non brand foods, how to unload the cart, how to load the grocery bags, and using their manners when talking with adults. 

It's been a good experience.

At the end of June I'm going to write about our budget and how it works for US.  Please remember this is not the be all and end all on these topic I cover.  I'm writing this to share with you how it works for our family and for our needs.  Not every family and every needs will be the same. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Busy Girl!

I've been one busy girl lately.  Between work and kids and volunteering and our anniversary and plays and laundry and food and grocery and well... just life, things have been hard to catch up on. 

I didn't realize I had missed "Marriage Monday" post until half way through the week.  That's how busy it gets.

So I'm going to try and get myself back up to date and see what I can get done here!

Have a great rest of May :)

Monday, May 13, 2013

Marriage Monday ~ Happy Mother's Day (copout)

Hey there!

Yep, It was Mother's Day YESTERDAY.  But I'm using that as my excuse for not having my "Marriage Monday" done this week.  Instead you get to see two of my 4 babies.  These two are incredible.  I love them so much.  They are what make me a mother.  Which I have been for 8 years now. Wow... 8 years!

Anyway... Happy (late) Mother's Day.  I hope you had a great one.  And if not, that's ok.  Remember "Mother's Day" isn't just one day a year, it's every time that child looks into your face and you see that look of love.








PS... for those who aren't moms, chose not to be moms, or have no choice and aren't moms please know my heart is with you.  I understand the heartache of no children, losing children, and wanting them.  You are the best "mothers" to other children in the world.  My son's godmother (Otis's Godmother Jessie) can't have children right now and she is the coolest Auntie ever!

Monday, May 6, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Being the "Mom"

Having a marriage is a lot of give and take.  We know that. Heck any relationship is a lot of give and take.

This past weekend we have had a lot of give and take.  I went to a concert that hubby loved, for him. I would have been completely fine staying home, or going to our church to watch the leafs play on the big screen.  But nope, I was in the car heading to a church that was showing a TobyMac concert.  Don't get me wrong, I like TobyMac.  He isn't my favourite artist but he is a good one.  And finally at the end of his concert he played my favourite song of his.  So that helped.

Then last night... we had a bit more of the "taking" on my part.  I NEEDED sleep!  So I took it.  Kyler came downstairs complaining of a tummy ache.  Arnold took care of him.  First tums, then a little while later, cleaning up when Kyler threw up.

Today I'm doing the "giving" part.  As is Arnold.  It's never a "give and take" at the same time, at least not normally for us.

Today I'm giving to my family.  I'm giving of my time, and I'm giving of the fact that I *hate* completely, undoubtly(sp), HATE cleaning up puke.  I'm just not "that" kind of mom. 

My mom can do it, no problem. 

There was one night I remember calling my mommy at 6am.  We had been up all night with the boys both throwing up and there was no food in our house, nothing for us, we had been at the hospital for 3-4 hours and I just needed my mama.  She came, with daddy, and they cleaned, brought food and helped to take care of the children throwing up so Arnold and I could get some sleep.  Then, they left, just as easily as they had come, and we were well rested and our children were on the mend and our house was clean!

Anyway.. so I'm not that kind of mom.  I don't do throw up, large amounts of blood or spiders very well. 

Today I'm giving of myself, and my time, and biting my tongue while I take care of my little guy who is sick.  It's a struggle as today is one of those "filled up with things to do" days but we are making it work.

Arnold is "giving" today as he goes to the airport after work and picks up complete strangers.  Their daughter needs surgery at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto.  They are flying in from the USA and we are giving them a lift to help with the costs and to get them there comfortably.  I "know" them through a friend on a Bible Study group on Facebook.  I'm always surprised how things work out.

Sorry, today I'm so all over the place I'm positive this post doesn't make any sense!

But here it is. Sometimes you have to use your "Give and take" with your husband (another post on that later) and sometime it's just a part of being a mom/dad.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May Bucket List

A few years ago a friend inspired me to make a "Bucket List" for the summer.  Things I really wanted to do for myself, the boys, my husband and my family in general.  Things I knew I would enjoy.  I came up with a "great" list.  By that I mean it always changed.  I added, removed and changed things.  It was wonderful for me to have.

Here's the example.  This is from June 2011

*Strawberry picking (it's happening soon!  The berries are ready tomorrow!)
*Jam making
*Exit interviews at school and Keli Program
*finish up our swimming lessons
*play dates with the girls across the road
*play dates with the new mommies and their babies
*Mini golf - the boys have wanted to do this since last year but I'm hoping this will happen during the summer
*Do Canada Day Parade
*Alberta Trip
*move downstairs
*zoo days (at least once a week)
*Bike rides at night
*go to the Toronto Islands at least once a month
*Camping (already planed for the long weekend and then again in August.  maybe we will try for one in July?)
*make sure the garden survives this summer!
*train for the tri and keep it up this summer
*boys soccer camp (in july - paid for and ready to go!)
*Get K more steady on 2 wheels for his bike
*Get Q ok with being in the water in Nana and Papa's pool
*have a "movie night" with the boys outside



While I'm still not sure what will be on my Summer Bucket List (which I would start next month) I know what I want to do this month.  (As you can tell I *love* lists, more than any person should be they are so fantastic!!  Really truly, the best thing ever)


My May Bucket List:

*continue working out every week day (every single day if possible)
*get up to date on my meals and my Marriage Mondays
*take the boys to the park every weekend we are home
*Complete the mothers day and maybe the fathers day gifts at school
*Do something fun for our anniversary
*Take the boys out for dinner
*Get Healthy! (all of us)
*work in my gardens and get some things planted
*Go for a bike ride with the kids
*Watch Kyler compete in his first track and field race
*Organize the boys room and get their summer stuff out!!!
*Have a movie night with the girls from youth group!
*Play catch with Kyler
*Scrapbook at least 2 pages!
*Lose 5 pounds (fingers crossed!)

So far that's it.  Here's to getting my bucket list done!!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Firsts!

I posted on Facebook this morning saying that I LOVE firsts.  I love the 1st of the month, the 1st of the year, the 1st of the week the 1st of just about anything.  It's always brings such hope, excitement and that feeling that something new is happening.

The first of the year everyone makes big plans, resolutions if you will.  Something that truly encourages you to "take on" the new year and enjoy every minute of it.  It's generally something to make you a better person.

The first of the month brings excitement for what the next 28-31 days have planned in them.  Sometimes it's a month of birthdays, or a month of trips or a month with "nothing" planned.  Sometimes those are the best months ever.  The ones when you flip the calendar and see a completely blank calendar ready to be filled with all the life your family can handle putting into it. 

The first of the week has the feel that everything is going on again.  Things are still moving.  Another week of school, work, summer vacation (ahh those wonderful months) or sometimes just 1 more week closer or further away from something.  I'm finding Monday's are a hard day to deal with sometimes.  There's so much going on and so much that needs to get done I can't seem to enjoy them as much.

Today is the 1st of May.  While May isn't a busy month for us (for now) it brings a lot of "newness" to our lives.  This month we have my first full month at a new job, my first big project for the JK/SK's to get done and hopefully succeed, our first time going to a Toby Mac Concert this weekend, my first time on new drugs for my blood pressure, Kyler's Frist time on the track team, and his first time taking swimming lessons at school.  It just brings a lot of firsts for us.

Kyler and Quinton were so excited for the 1st of May because to them it meant that we could get ice cream from the ice cream truck.

My parents (I'm sure) are excited for this month because we are going to open their pool.

I'm excited to have the long weekend here in Toronto.  It's the first time (in a long time) that I remember having a full long weekend to work on projects around the house and yard.  I love those weekends.

So today while you enjoy the sunshine (at least in this part of the country) remember to enjoy the 1st that you have, while you have them!


Monday, April 29, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Money

The dreaded "M" word.  It's that one word that no one wants to have anything to do with.  Everyone wants LOTS of it and no one wants to know where it goes, and how it gets there.

I've talked about this before.  I've talked about our version of the Dave Ramsey Program.  How much we love doing this and seeing our credit cards go down and slowly our savings to go up!

This past year has really shown us what we need to have.  When we lost our baby things started to pile up.  Costs that we weren't ready for, and never should have to think about while expecting a baby, let alone your own children babies or not.  And slowly our Emergency Fund started to sink lower and lower.

We are so blessed to have family who loves us and cares for us in every way we can and have helped to pay for different parts of the funeral until we could.  It has been such a blessing.

Now we are back on our feet.  Our debts have been paid off and paid back and slowly we are getting there.  Slowly we are seeing the light.

Which brings me to why I'm posting about Money in my Marriage Mondays posts. 

I've been thinking a lot about how some people have *no* idea where their money is going, where it has come from and what is going to happen to it.  Some people just don't have a clue to what is happening in their own family.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer my mom had a "field trip" to the basement to go through all the important papers they have.  All their taxes, files, etc..  So much stuff to go through and learn.  And that was about the point that Arnold and I chose to make sure we were BOTH in our on money.  And it has become part of our marriage.

When we were first married we had little to no money.  Isn't that always how it works?  Eventually we gained some more, lost LOTS more and slowly got ourselves on our feet.  We had bank accounts in 3 different banks.  It was crazy.  And just before we had gotten married I made the stupidest choice I have *ever* made.  I got a department store credit card.  I thought, hey why not?  It will help our credit.

It took FOREVER to pay off.  Like so much time.  Even now I'm never comfortable going to stores that ask me if I want their credit card.  Most of the time I follow it up with things like "no thank you I'm trying to pay off all of mine" or " are you crazy?  I don't have that kind of extra cash laying around to pay the interest rate you want!".  Generally people leave me alone after that.

Any who.. back to the point of writing this.  I'm hoping to do something called "Marriage Mondays Money Posts" on the last Monday of the month.  Just something about how our budgeting works for us.  not for everyone else mind you.  We each need to find something that works for us and go with it.  I read a lot about money and what people say to earn more, keep more when doing taxes and how to save that "$6000.00" a year with simple changes.  But it always leads me back to just being careful with my own money.

So first things first.  Dave Ramsey teaches us to get right with your 4 walls.  Make sure you can live within your means.  It's different for everyone.  We pay a lot in rent.  When most people find out how much we pay they are always shocked and ask why we don't buy our own house right now!  And generally speaking, we would/could but we don't have the credit or the down payment needed.  And to be honest, I don't want one yet. I'm not ready to commit to a place.  For example... From the time Arnold and I got married we moved 7 times.  It gets to the point that when I do my spring cleaning the boys ask if we are moving again.  They are just so used to it.  While we love our neighbourhood and we wouldn't want to move I'm not ready to commit to staying here.

For us (again different for everyone) our 4 walls meant having enough money to pay for food (I'll get into that later), to pay for rent,  and to pay for hydro/gas/water/electric.  Everything above and beyond that is "extras" that get put into your budget later.

So we have to make sure we can afford all those.  While it's not a lot to think about at first.  When Arnolds pay cheque comes in (as we are a 1.25 income family right now) we have to think about where our money is going and what we are/can do about it. 

I was talking to a friend who has started looking at her money as a family.  She can't understand where the money goes and how 1 pay cheque has to get them through the whole month!  I asked her what happen to the first pay?  I was told it's their "Rent" money.  Well... then I got it.  For a LONG time we did the same thing.  We paid our whole rent cheque out of our first pay of the month.  It was almost impossible for US to get that to work.  Slowly I realized if I saved part of the pay it wasn't so hard. 

Now we work like this:

about $400 - $500.00 of our rent comes from pay #1.  It gets set aside into an account and we add it all up later in the month.
The rest of our pay comes out of our second cheque so that we aren't scrounging to make it for a whole month on one pay.

Next time I'm going to talk about our grocery budget and how we make that work for US!  This may not work for you but it's what works for our family.  Hopefully, if nothing else, it gives you an idea of how we do it.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Dress to Impress

I know this one is going to get me into ALOT of trouble but here it is anyway.

I try to do things for my husband to make him happy, excited, and want to be with me.  Not that he doesn't *want* to be with me... see this is already getting me in trouble!

Last year after we lost Otis I said I needed to figure out who the heck I am!  This includes losing weight, trying out new things, and part of it is not dressing "like a mom".

When Arnold and I met we were in university.  We lived across the hall from each other.  And while I didn't totally care what I was wearing (but mind you I only packed my "good" clothes) I was careful what I wore. 

When I got sick I was ok handling people, including Arnold, see me in PJ pants and a t-shirt.  In fact that how I spent most of my second year... in PJ pants and t-shirts.  Not because I was sick but because I just didn't care anymore. 

Slowly I began to realize I can't live in my pj's so I started to find something that worked for me.  But being plus size and being in university, clothes weren't always the top thing for me to afford.  Shirts were a lot of money, unless you got them at Walmart, and pants were always way more.  I still remember buying my first "performance" shirt to do a duet with my friend Lyle.  It was this blue shirt with sliver glitter lines in it.  So wonderful.  I *just* tossed it in the donation pile last month.  It was about $60.00 and I was so worried about wearing it too much to ruin it.

Now I'm still figuring it out.  I'm currently in jeans and a t-shirt writing this out.  I've begun adding new things to my wardrobe that my husband likes, or encourages.  Some things I'm not fond of.  Others I'll "try" and still others I love more than anything.  I've found in the past 5 months I have spent more on clothes than I ever have before.  And I'm ok with that.  I'm beginning to wear things that are less "mommy" and more "adult" ish.

Back to my dress to impress title.  Dress the way your husband enjoys, if you can.  I'm not saying if you are a plus size woman and your hubby like skin tight clothes you should wear that.  I'm saying dress how you are comfortable, dress how you look good, and remember that your husband likes how you look.  I was once told to dress and look good when your husband gets home from work.  Remind him what a wonderful person you are so he keeps coming home to you. 

My husband loves to have me dress with necklaces and earrings.  Small change but something he loves.  And I love to impress him!

Friday, April 19, 2013

New Food Fridays.... humm life got in the way.

I know that normally I post something here 2 times a day for my "New Food Fridays".  Except this week.  I'm so behind on things that I just haven't gotten my posts ready.  I know I know I've said the same thing before but it's so true.

I'm hoping to get some time this weekend to get my act together and work on some new stuff.

Next week we will be back to our regularly schedule program!

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Road Rage

Oh my gosh!

Do they think I can read their minds?

Seriously?

Would you just go!

Humm.. they may not almost kill someone if they would just use their signal lights!

That *was* a green light... thanks for not going!

yeah... I'm mean sometimes.  And at times I just can't "handle" being nice anymore.

But dang... Road Rage is becoming more and more of something I need to watch. 

I've been driving more.  Normally it was just a few days a week (Sundays, Monday nights, Wednesday nights, Thursday afternoon/night and then maybe on the Saturday?).  But now I'm working outside the home and I'm driving 2 times a week (sometimes more) to work and back.  I've taken to turning off the radio and listening to Christian music instead.  I can honestly say that has "helped" my road rage.

Then.. there are times.. like today, where I just want to shake someone.  It started when I was late leaving.  Odd how that seems to "help/harm" the situation.  I was late getting out of work and then late leaving to get Quinton from school.  If there's one thing I really truly hate, it's people being late.  Even more so when it's to pick up their kids.

So I was late and started home.  Someone had parked in a lane where they shouldn't have.  I moved around them.  Around now my annoyance meter is about 2 or so.

I got up to the lights and I know this set of lights.  I know that there is an advanced green for the other lane, except during the non-peak times (when I'm driving) and then it's both green at the same time.  I know that just past this intersection there is a parking lane and EVERYONE uses it.  If you are not in the left lane at the lights you will be forced to make your way (rudely I might add) into the left lane.  Sure enough.. someone 3 cars back can't stand being behind everyone and pulls into the right lane, comes up to the lights and then putts along beside me until we cross the intersection.  Here's where I figure, if you haven't sped up then you aren't trying to get in my lane until AFTER me.  Well I was wrong.  Turns out he wanted in, and he wanted it now.  So here we go.. he floors it to get around me.  I have to slam my breaks (hoping the guy behind me doesn't hit me) so the dude in the right lane can get into mine.  My annoyance meter is about 4 now.

Then he slows down (annoyance meter is 5).  This drives me crazy.  Not only did this guy slow down to 40 (speed limit is 50) he was staying in the left lane. Now maybe this is just me but isn't the left lane for FAST people?  Those who are ok with daring to get a speeding ticket?  Guess what!  When I'm late getting my son I'm ok with getting a ticket to get him.  I hate for my babies to think that I've "left" them somewhere.  It's horrible. 

Then we get to another intersection.  This dude is still ahead of me (I would have passed if it weren't for the other people behind me getting annoyed and moving around us first).  I figure it's now or never.  I'm going to pass him after this intersection and then I will go BACK over 2 lanes to get into the turning lane.  Sure enough I go to move over (signal light and everything) and he goes over too, without his light on!  I was SO mad.  I had to get back into those people who were waiting for me and the slow dude to speed up to go by so I could get back over and get into the turning lane before missing the intersection (Annoyance meter is around 7 now).

I turn left and finally think, great!  I'm almost home and I should *just* make it to school on time to get Q.  No more worries.  I finally start to relax a bit and I meet another "dude".  This one figures it's ok to not drive in 2 lane.  Nope 2 lanes are MUCH better to drive in.  It's almost as if he had NO idea where the lanes were.  People were honking their horns and getting mad.  I'm just about to blow a fuse and I suddenly clue in. 

I'm a jerk.

I could be giving this person a break.  Relaxing.  Enjoying the drive.  Taking in all the amazing things God has provided us with today.  It's a wonderful warm day, the flowers are coming up and I should remember to look at those.  Not just the people around me in cars, the people walking and those who drive me crazy.  But I need to remember to take some time to take God's beauty in.

So the next time Road Rage hits me I'm going to slow down.  Take a deep breath.  And remember that this may just be my only "quiet" time I get all day. 

Monday, April 15, 2013

Marriage Mondays ~ Appreciating a Good Dad/Spouse

I've tried, not too hard, but kept in mind, that not everyone reading this has kids.  They are a "touchy subject" in our house sometimes but still my children have ALOT to do with our marriage and how we live and how we treat each other.

For example, this past week between our kids therapy appointments, swimming lessons, school, class trip, birthdays, get togethers, and everything else that's part of a "normal" week for Arnold and I, I didn't get a chance to make my Marriage Monday post beforehand.

Bad Miranda!

I know...

Still, here I am, just after lunch ready to post away and I couldn't think of a good topic.  Nothing was going, "ok, write about this, someone needs to hear/read this".  I'm not saying that happens all the time but I can honestly say I have a few "saved" Marriage Monday posts that are my backups and nothing is pushing me to post about those today.

So instead I'll post about appreciating a good Dad/Spouse.

Ever since our weekend away in January, Arnold and I have tried to reconnect more.  We spend more time together, we are careful with our relationship and we are more understanding of what each other needs.

This weekend was "my" turn to have my needs met. Starting on Thursday night I had more problems than ever with my cell phone.  Arnold spent a few hours backing it up and making it all work better.  But it still had issues on Friday so Friday night Arnold stayed up late and factory-reset my phone.  He made sure it was working perfectly before giving it back to me. 

Arnold was so wonderful to go grocery shopping with me on Friday night.  We got everything we wanted to get at the store (minus 2 things we forgot) and he was wonderful about encouraging me to purchase things we wanted to restock but not always need to. 

On Friday night I planned a get together with some of the youth girls. Which meant our plans as a family to go to Home Depot and do their craft and some shopping weren't going to happen.  This also meant I was taking the car and the boys would be taking the bus.  For Arnold, this is no big deal. But with some extra people (ie my kids) it's sometimes harder.

Arnold met my needs by helping out, being so willing to take the boys still and not worry about anything else and just enjoy this time with the boys.  During the rest of our Saturday together while friends were here he was attentive, wonderful, helpful with the kids.  I love how he interacts with them.

Sunday morning we had some "snuggle time" on the couch.  We both ate our breakfasts and visited about what we had planned for the day, how we were both doing and what we were aiming to get done.  Then, that afternoon he did some fix it jobs for me. 

I may never say this enough, but he really is a wonderful dad/husband.

While the girls and I were out on Saturday I picked up one of those daily calendars.  It's a flip one from the movie "Courageous".  I always look at that days date, and my birthday to see if it's worth getting!

Saturdays date was this:


It's so true.  While I do try to show my husband I appreciate him, it doesn't always happen.  But let me tell you, do I appreciate him?  HECK YES!  And I love him so much more.